The costs of assisted living and skilled nursing care have risen faster than the rate of inflation during the past year, with assisted living costs increasing at a greater rate than all other care settings, according to an annual survey by the Metlife Mature Market Institute. Metlife attributes the increases to the general state of the economy, combined with rising health care and energy costs.

In its 2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs, Metlife reports that national average rates rose by:

  • 5.6% for assisted living communities, from $3,293 a month in 2010 to $3,477 per month in 2011.
  • 4.4% for private nursing home rooms, which cost $229 a day in 2010 and $239 in 2011.
  • 4.5% for adult day services programs, which charged $67 per day in 2010 and $70 per day in 2011.

Average hourly rates for home health aides ($21) and homemakers ($19) were unchanged from 2010, according to the survey.

Variations in Cost 

Care costs vary widely around the nation, according to the Metlife data, which was collected from 2,003 nursing homes, 1,492 assisted living communities, 1,644 home care agencies and 1,341 adult day services programs. For example, assisted living base rates are highest in Washington, DC, where residents currently pay $5,757 per month or 10% more than they paid in 2010. Residents in the Little Rock, AR metropolitan area pay the least for assisted living—$2,156 per month.

While nursing home costs in Alaska decreased slightly since 2010, they are still the highest in the nation, at $655 for a private room compared to $687 in 2010. Costs are lowest in Louisiana, where nursing home residents pay an average of $141 per day for a private room.

Similarly, average statewide rates for home health aides range from $17 an hour in West Virginia to $26 an hour in Connecticut. Average hourly rates for homemakers range from $16 in Alabama to $24 in Minnesota.

Additional Information 

The Metlife report provides additional information about assisted living communities, nursing homes, home health agencies and adult day services programs. For example: 

  • Assisted Living: Almost three-quarters (72%) of assisted living communities surveyed by Metlife provide Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Half (50%) of these communities charge an additional fee for this service.
  • Nursing homes: Fifteen percent of the nursing homes surveyed by MetLife have an associated assisted living unit or wing, while 11% are part of a continuing care retirement community. Most (87%) nursing homes provide dementia care, but only 10% offer adult day services.
  • Home health: Most agencies surveyed by Metlife have an hourly service rate and 81% require a minimum number of hours per day. This minimum ranges from 30 minutes to 8 hours, with an average minimum of 3 hours. A third (32%) of agencies has a live-in rate that averages $258 for a home health aide and $255 for a homemaker/companion.
  • Adult Day: More than three-quarters of adult day services centers are open 5 days a week, while 13% are open 7 days per week. Seven in 10 adult day centers provide transportation services to and from the center and half (53%) of those centers charge a fee for transportation.